Blackhawks

Corey Crawford honored by Team Canada selection

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Corey Crawford honored by Team Canada selection

Corey Crawford couldn’t help but smile when asked about getting the Team Canada nod on Wednesday.

“Yeah, I’ve been trying to make that team for a while,” Crawford said.

As Crawford pointed out the World Cup of Hockey, in which he’ll be one of three goaltenders for Team Canada, is still a few months away. But getting that nod, getting that chance to represent his country is an honor for Crawford. It’s also validation and recognition for a goaltender that finally may be getting his due as one of the NHL’s best.

“I’m happy for him,” Jonathan Toews said. “A lot of people think he’s been a good goaltender because our team’s good. But I honestly think it’s mostly the other way around, especially this year.”

[MORE HAWKS: Nine Blackhawks selected to World Cup of Hockey rosters]

That has been one of the statements from Crawford’s critics these past few seasons: that he benefits from the group in front of him. Also, that he’s been too erratic and that he doesn’t steal many games. This season, however, it’s been tough to back up any of those criticisms. During the Blackhawks’ 12-game winning streak Crawford was one of their most consistent players, stealing a few games. His seven shutouts still lead the league and his victory over Detroit on Wednesday was his 34th victory this season, a new career high.

“Great accomplishment, happy and proud for him. I think he’s been under the radar and he gets his due,” coach Joel Quenneville said, “I’m very happy for him and I look forward to him being a part of it next fall.”

Crawford’s also not the flashiest goaltender that’s played the game; he’s not going to make a lot of those acrobatic, highlight-reel saves. But the bottom line is he’s been making the stops, and more of them this season than in previous years. And he’s also getting more national attention.

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“When you’re in a locker room, some guys have big household names and have always been treated that way and some guys don’t,” Toews said. “He’s one of those guys who’s finally earning the recognition he’s getting through the continued success and consistency he’s shown for our team.”

Crawford already has two Stanley Cups on his resume. He’s also won two William Jennings trophies for his work. Still, no matter how much they win, there are always goals that players want to reach. With his Team Canada selection, Crawford has achieved a long-coveted goal.

“It’s a huge honor,” Crawford said. “It’s still a ways away, but it’s nice to be named and have a chance to play for your country.”

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

On the latest edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Charlie Roumeliotis is joined by Scott Powers of The Athletic to discuss Stan Bowman's comments following the Marian Hossa trade and debate whether they're finished making moves this summer.

They also provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks' top prospects and which players have caught their attention as development camp winds down.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: 'Our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs'

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: 'Our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs'

Jonathan Toews watched a lot of playoff hockey this spring. 

"Quite a bit," he admitted Wednesday before making his Chicago Pro Hockey League debut at MB Ice Arena. "More than usual."

That's because the Blackhawks missed out on the postseason for the first time since his rookie year in 2007-08. It's obviously not a position he'd like himself or his team to be in, especially after experiencing three Stanley Cups in a six-year span.

But you have to find a way to take the positives out of it at this point and let it fuel you for the upcoming campaign.

"You always want to be there playing," Toews said. "But when you can maybe step away from the game a little bit and just kind of breathe and — at the same time, look back and realize you’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of success. Obviously there’s no satisfaction there, but you understand it’s not the worst thing to stop and smell the roses and appreciate what you’ve been able to experience, because I think failing to get to the playoffs makes you realize how difficult it really is and maybe it’s something you took for granted.

"But watching more hockey this spring, I think, is something that was really motivating and kind of inspiring and exciting to want to get back to that level again. You dream of playing in the NHL, but at the end of the day, you want to play playoff hockey. That’s what it’s all about."

There were plenty of things that went wrong for the Blackhawks last season and contributed to why they watched the playoffs from home, whether it's the Corey Crawford injury, the down season from Brandon Saad, or the inexperience on the blue line.

For Toews, who turned 30 in April, it's about regaining that old form that made him one of the top players in the NHL and hoping it can filter down the rest of the Blackhawks lineup.

"For me, it’s part of just recapturing that energy, that motivation, excitement and that mindset of a young player who takes nothing for granted, that you had in your younger days," he said. "But also carrying the experience with you and understanding the impact of what you say, what you do, how you carry yourself can impact your teammates, especially the young guys. For me, it comes down to knowing what to say at the right time. But letting my play be the thing that helps me lead by example. No better time than now to use that experience and that excitement trying to rebound off the season we had last year."

If there's any reason to have belief that the Blackhawks can turn it around quickly, look no further than the two teams that collided in the Stanley Cup Final: Vegas and Washington. 

The Golden Knights had the longest odds to win it all at the beginning of the season while the Capitals' championship window was perceived to be closed after they failed to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017 in the second round yet again with a loaded roster. But it's not about what's on paper.

"Watching that last series, you just knew it came down to who had the most, the deepest belief in themselves," Toews said. "I even had a hard time predicting who was going to win every series. It could’ve gone either way in a lot of situations. It’s not only motivating, seeing how fast that play was and to have missed out on playoff hockey this year and to have the drive to get back there, but knowing if you do sneak into the playoffs it doesn’t matter. You can go a long way.

"For us, thinking, 'OK, we're gonna back and win a Stanley Cup this year,' it sounds like a long shot. But as always, our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs and being ready to hit our stride when we get there."